Saturday, August 30, 2008

And it just gets better ...

Okay, I lied. This post IS another pity party. Just let me get it off my chest, and maybe I'll feel better.

My daughters are tremendously talented. I don't just say that as a Mom; it can be objectively measured. They are bright, they are beautiful, they both love music and theatre, they can sing to break your heart, they can perform in an unselfconscious way that most high school girls can't match.

Ally first got involved in the school musical her freshman year when she stood out among the "Pick-a-Little" ladies in "Music Man." The next year, she completely stole the show as Bloody Mary in South Pacific. Ask anyone. Play the tape. When she came out to take her bow, the crowd roared in a way that, embarrassingly enough, they didn't do for the leads.

This past year, there were rumours that the play would be "Annie Get Your Gun" after Ally and Hank sang "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" for a chorus performance. They decided, however, to go with "Sound of Music" and gave Julie, the female lead from "South Pacific," one more bite at the apple. That made sense. And Julie did a terrific job as Maria. Ally did a great job as the Mother Superior, but under all those robes, no one knew who she was.

The fit between Ally and "Annie Get Your Gun" was obvious, though. She's a good comedic actor and a great singer and she can play a little tomboyish. Everyone -- her friends, my Mom, me, the music director -- could see that she was perfect for "Annie Get Your Gun."

Prior to school starting, the music director called me and told me that the play this year would be "Annie Get Your Gun." She was planning on Tues. and Thurs. rehearsals and wanted to be sure that Ally would be available. A mutual friend, told Ally that the music director had told him that she thought Ally could do the role of Annie in the play. He told Ally this. When auditions started, all of her friends immediately tagged her for the role of Annie. In fact, we couldn't think of anyone else who was even in the running. Ally had previously learned all the songs and she sang them for two weeks around the house.

Kate, of course, also wanted to be in the play. She and Ally helped each other pick and learn their audition monologues and songs. Kate worked hard to learn a great little speech with a lot of emotion and repeated it non-stop for a whole weekend. She really wanted the role of Winnie, who has two cute songs in the play, and is a secondary love interest. She was going through a lot of angst because it was so clear that Ally would be Annie, she didn't want to be totally left out. She also wanted to be in the play because it would be Ally's last year and the last time they could perform together.

The auditions went well. Ally was asked to cold read the part of Annie and Kate was asked to read the part of Winnie. It's a small school -- there's just not that much competition. We thought we knew all the potential rivals for the part and there was no one against Ally and just a few against Kate.

Then, the bomb dropped. Because the usual director and school drama teacher has a new baby, she decided not to direct this year. Instead, the school hired a woman who had just graduated from college with a theatre degree. I thought this was good because she would bring a fresh perspective to the play. Unfortunately, she also doesn't know any of the kids and was working from the three minute auditions exclusively. Her first impulse was to put a freshman in the role of Annie.

Ultimately, she decided that a girl who has done minor roles before -- but who is very cute -- should play Annie. I've heard this girl sing. Even if I were impartial -- which I am clearly not -- I would say that is a bad decision. "Annie Get Your Gun" is essentially a one-woman tour de force. Annie is in almost every scene and sings 90% of the songs. This girl can't do that. There is no way. I've heard her sing; I've seen her act. It isn't going to happen. Or, at least, it's not going to be pretty.

Ally received the part of Dolly, the slutty older woman comic relief with only part of one song. Kate is simply in the chorus.

Ally's heart was broken, of course. When she first heard that the play would be "Annie Get Your Gun," she knew it was her turn for a lead role. In fact, the music director made no secret of the fact that she had chosen the play for Ally. Everyone knew that it was Ally's year. Everyone ... but the new director.

Ally screamed and wept and carried on after her dad picked her up at school. She concluded she had been overlooked because she's too fat, too ugly, too untalented. He called me at home to prepare me when she headed home ... But when she walked in the door, she was bright-eyed and chipper. She said she would enjoy playing Dolly, that she had some good lines. She picked up her music notebook and headed off for her voice lesson as if nothing had happened. It totally broke my heart. It was her best performance ever.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Fun Summer ... Not

Okay. This is the time at Wool & Bull when we have a little pity party. This summer SUCKED.

It started out well enough. Kate went to camp for three weeks to clean toilets and wash dishes as a member of the Crew. Anyone who doesn't think that's fun (for the Mother), doesn't have a teenaged daughter dropping candy wrappers and dirty dishes all over the house. I LOVED the fact that she had to cut the grass all the way around the lake with a hand held scythe. I LOVED it when the little boys in the meadow cabins all ate bad burritos and created a truly foul mess in the bathroom -- that she and her fellow Crew members had to clean up. I LOVED it when one of the mean boys locked her in the walk-in dumpster. Strangely enough, she loved it too. She cried and cried when she had to come home and leave all of her Crew friends behind. So, all was well.

After Kate got home, though, she and her Dad went off on a fabulous vacation to England and Ireland. It was their special Daddy/Daughter trip and I was glad for them to have some bonding time. But what did Ally and I get to do? We got to have Ally's wisdom teeth out. She was a brave little soldier, but she developed an infection and it was NOT FUN. Especially, when -- did I mention -- the other half of our family unit was on vacation in Ireland.

When the wanderers returned home, Jeff had lap band surgery, which his doctor (our close friend) had strongly recommended. It was supposed to be an outpatient procedure. It was not. He woke up from surgery in extreme pain and was unable to swallow anything -- even his own saliva -- for a week. Guess who got to empty all the vomit basins? After a week in the hospital on an IV and no progress, the surgeon went back in and took the dratted thing out again. He felt better almost immediately and after a couple of days was able to go home -- a somewhat thinner and thoroughly unhappy person.

After fussing over him for a few days, it was time for the girls to go back to school again! The summer had vanished completely!

Two days before school started, Kate started to take her summer homework seriously. She worked for two solid days with only 2 hours of sleep. My, was she pleasant to be around ...

On my own little procrastination project, the night before school started I finally got out the box of school clothes and started washing them. When Kate tried on her school skirts, they were hopelessly too small -- and so were all her school pants. That's how I found myself at Walmart at 1:30 a.m. the day before school looking for some khaki pants for her to wear the next day.

This summer, I never got around to mulching the yard ... and only did minimal weeding. You can imagine how it looks .... I have made no further progress on the Wool & Bull studio. It looks just the same as it did last spring. I still haven't cleaned out the guest room -- formerly a top priority that has fallen to the bottom of the list. Probably worst of all: I still haven't done any further work on Kate's Civil War Era dress that was promised to her as a gift for her straight A report card LAST FALL. I promised her recently that it would be done by Halloween of this year.

Okay ... pity party and self-flagellation over.

Everything isn't horrible. This summer we FINALLY bought a new couch to replace the 15 year old monstrocity that we've hated since the moment it arrived at our door. It had a rip in the back and two large threadbare places on the seats and three years ago we decided to buy a new one. I'll let you soak that in: Three Years Ago. I have looked and looked for a decent leather couch that the short people who live in this house (all four of us) would feel comfortable on. It has been an almost completely fruitless search.

However, in a stroke of sheer luck, a couch that I had been considering went to the furniture store tent sale and was marked down to $800 ... a Flexsteel solid leather couch! That's $1000 off the regular price!! I talked the family into buying it and rented a truck to pick it up the next day. Now that we've got it, everyone loves it and it looks SO much better than the threadbare disaster occupying the space previously.


I've been racking my brain for the last few minutes trying to think of just one other thing this summer that has not sucked. Well ... nobody died. I did have a nice visit with my sister and my folks, as reported in the previous blog entry. Other than that, I'm coming up with nothing.

Well, the fall has got to be better. I'm looking forward to crisp weather.

The next entry will NOT be a pity party, I promise. I plan to talk about finished objects. What with all the illness, I've had plenty of knitting time. :)